Over the past several years, both the U.S. and Canadian governments have directed that all producers of air conditioning equipment stop production of the refrigerant R-22 (Freon) or Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These refrigerants have been commonly used in air conditioners and heat pumps for a long time. The recommended phase-out mandates are intended to have the HVAC industry move to a more green friendly refrigerant with a technical label R410A. R410A has been shown to be safer for the environment.
In late 2010 most air conditioning companies began manufacturing Air Conditioning and Heat Pump units, without adding refrigerant at the factory. These units are more commonly called “dry charged units”. They can legally be sold and installed allowing the HVAC contractor to charge the unit in the field with R22. R22 is still legal for AC repair or service for a few more years. The intent for these Dry Charged Units is to give the greater Wheeling area a more simple and affordable replacement option for central air conditioners and heat pumps. However, these units also bypass the spirit of the mandates, which was to help the environment by introducing more environment friendly solutions.
Wheeling homeowners should know that these Dry Charged Units are approved in the U.S. and Canada. Taking advantage of an unclear definition of the outdoor unit in these policies, the entire outdoor unit is technically looked upon as a replacement “part”. These days, condensers or heat pumps intended for use in a replacement R-22 system are usually referred to as “Dry Charge” or “Nitrogen Charged” systems. The following are some Frequently Asked Questions about this recent A/C Dry Charge trend.
Should I buy a “Dry Charge” A/C system?
The answer to this question hinges on a number of things. The most important thing to do is understand what types of HVAC equipment the heating and air conditioning industry offers and seek solutions to meet your personal comfort, efficiency and lifestyle needs. Take time to understand the benefits and difference between a dry charge unit and new air conditioning products with R-410A refrigerant.
Why would I buy a R-410A refrigerant system?
Current R-410A systems offer benefits to Wheeling homeowners that Dry Charge units do not. Some of the benefits include:
- Increased energy efficiency for reduced cost of comfort
- Leading technology to lower humidity
- Current production refrigerant solutions allowing longer life and extended availability of refrigerant
- Expanded warranty periods for even greater peace of mind
- Quieter operation for a more peaceful indoor environment
- Earth friendly refrigerant for lower impact on the environment
- Matched coil solutions for enhanced reliability and guaranteed cooling and heating performance
Is it legal to install Dry Charge units?
Absolutely. There are no Federal laws or legal restriction on the installation of R-22 or Dry Charge Equipment, however, it can only be used as a repair to an existing system.
What about the warranty?
Major manufacturers honor a standard 5-year parts warranty on dry charge units. While this affords industry standard protection on the components it does not provide protection against R-22 refrigerant prices, which are expected to increase significantly.
How expensive will R-22 get in the next few years?
It is likely that as a result of supply and demand, the answer to this question is “yes – we do anticipate R-22 refrigerant to get pricey”. As the phase out process of R22 continues, new R-22 refrigerant production will slowly be reduced, with full elimination of its production in 2020. Until that date, indications are that there will likely be sufficient supply to meet the current demand.
If you have more questions about refrigerant, we encourage you to contact Comfort Masters Service Experts for clarification.